Sunday, December 6, 2009

2nd Sunday in Advent

Happy Second Sunday in Advent Everyone,

First of all, I just want to say ROOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL TIDE! ROLL! What an incredible game last night! Two great great game. As an Alabama Fan, it feels good to finally be going to the Big Show again after all of these years! If Greg McElroy (QB of Alabama) happens to read this...I just want to say....I love you. hahahhaa. Heck of game!

In other news, today we had a day of Recollection which means that we kept Silence in the House today so that everyone would have a day to specially pray, reflect, and enter into this Advent Season. A bishop from Fargo, North Dakota came to our College to give a couple of talks for us to meditate on as well. I always enjoy days like this in Seminary. Although it has been one of the hardest lessons to learn in my time in Seminary so far, I believe it has been one of the most valuable--learning how to slow down, be still, quiet my heart, pray....and just set time aside to be alone with myself and God.

The first half of this week’s post is largely the result of that time in the stillness...alone with myself and my God. In the second half I would like to share a couple of pictures from some of the festivities we held at the College last weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving.

First Half:

This past week was FULL...for a lot of reasons. But it really wasn’t until the silence...that it all sank in. As I sat in my room and prayed. I felt moved to write a letter to two of my very best friends--Walker (aka “The Daddy”) and John (aka “Skeeter”). The three of us were fraternity brothers at Furman University and continue to be very close.

John got married to another good friend of mine Shannon (aka “Shannoon”) just after we graduated, and Walker got engaged to a beauty from Florida just a couple months ago named Katie.

Me and Marti Judy (married to my good buddy Noble) with John and Shannon--Winter 2005

John & Shannon: Spring 2006

Walker and Katie

Just after Getting Engaged

At the risk of being a bit personal, I would like to share a letter I wrote them today. John, Shannon, Katie, Walker....sorry to ruin the surprise of real-time mail....and for the publicity :)

To everyone else, I felt like many of you would be able to relate to my thoughts. And any of you who may be married, engaged, considering marriage in any way, or just admiring marriage from the outside-in (like myself)....these words are for you as well.

“It is amazing how time and intention can pass by so quickly.

Now my thoughts go out to ya’ll--John & Shannon, Walker & Katie. My heart beats with love for each of you and for the love that you share. My spirit raises in HOPE as I consider your commitments to each other...Your lives spent together.

I just watched Rain Man starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman--what a great movie. A beautiful story of what happens when Love takes over. When love becomes that of greatest value to Us...everything changes.

Perhaps this is why ya’ll come to my mind now. Because falling in Love with our God and, Walker, you with Katie, and, John, you with Shannon, has changed everything for you. No longer are your lives your own..but you are uniting yourselves to another...the Beautiful Bride you have found...the Pearl of Great Price worth everything you have. You are “selling all you own” just to have this treasure beyond price.

It is a beautiful thing for me to consider--a life given in a real way to another. So much respect, admiration, and love wells up within me right now.

My thoughts seamlessly move towards my sister Courtney and her husband Jeremy and their child in utero Connor Griffin. Two days ago, Courtney (now 33 weeks pregnant) went to the hospital because she woke up bleeding. She has been there since...and so has Jeremy. Everything looks OK now...but it came as quite a shock to us all. I can only imagine what Courtney and Jeremy experienced/are experiencing.

I can only guess at Jeremy’s experience of driving his nearly 8 months-pregnant wife to the hospital, bleeding at 5:00 AM. Sitting with the doctors, waiting and watching as they try to determine if his wife and 1st Son are OK. Standing by as his wife is “thoroughly” examined and then finally, when left alone with his bride, sitting bedside to hold her hand.

I cannot quite understand the depth of this level of love, commitment, and heroism. I can only marvel at it, appreciate it, and pray that I too may be blessed with such a grace.

What incredible depth there is to the vocation to love. How courageous, How sacred, How transcendent is the sacrament of marriage! How complete is this Giving...this Self-Gifting...this adventure upon which ya’ll have (will) embark(ed).

I cry tears of admiration, joy, of being overwhelmed by the mere consideration of such a virtuous life. I pledge to you my love, prayers, and support for my lifelong.

What a beautiful Life we have been given! What dignity we have! What an honor it is to be alive! What a privilege it is to share this life with people like you.

May God Bless You and keep You. May the Glory of His Eternal Light shine upon you. Come Holy Spirit, Renew them, for they are to be Light into the world. AMEN.

I love you.”

Friendship is a powerful thing. One I am blessed to have experienced deeply. And how great is it too, that God calls us to call him "Friend":

John 15:13-15

13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
15 I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.

I am happy to say that Courtney and Connor are both doing really well. A big Thank You too all of the guys here at the College and people back home who have been praying for Courtney, Jeremy, Connor, and our family.

Also, I would definitely recommend watching Rain Man at some point if you have not already. It is a really moving story which won Best Picture in 1988. It is rated “R” for the following reasons just to give you a heads up:

The condition Courtney is experiencing is called “placenta previa” and is fairly common. You can click here if you want the details. Basically, she is being monitored to see if she stops bleeding. If not, they will have to perform a C-section. If she can stop bleeding, they would ideally like to keep Connor hanging out in utero until he is ready to come out on his own. So...if you have a chance, I ask for some prayers for them and all pregnant mothers...that they may feel God’s Providential Hand.

Even as I just typed out that letter to John and Walker, I was struck by how deep...and penetrating...these moments are in prayer. For me, prayer has been a window...a passageway into a deeper encounter with reality...with life...with others....myself...with God. It is amazing what kind of insights, connections, peace, inspirations can come once you finally make the time to enter into some Silence...and just be still for a minute.

If you can find even just 5 minutes each day to be still, alone, quiet, and prayerful....I recommend it with all of my force. I think there are few things we can do that are more beneficial to our overall health, fulfillment, peace, and wholeness in life...than to have such a time in our lives regularly. I encourage you to consider spending 5 minutes each day this week in some kind of prayerful meditation or contemplation. It could be an interesting experiment if nothing else. I believe you would be amazed by what might happen....

Part II:

Thanksgiving at our College is always a fun time. There are many of traditions that take place that week, a few of which are the Thanksgiving Day Mass, Meal, & the “Spaghetti Bowl.” The first two are pretty self-explanatory.

Just after Mass. Travis "T-Bone" Burnett of Mobile is the server closest to us.

Italian Thanksgiving Turkey...not bad hunh?
Everyone at Thanksgiving sits by State at the big Meal. American Guests from all over Rome come to join us for this meal. Here is a shot of part of the Alabama table. (R-L): Phil Halladay, Fred Boni, Me, and Tom "Teagles" Gallagher (actually from WV but is the ONLY one and a good friend of we said "Come on Down now!"

Pre-Meal Shot

The “Spaghetti Bowl” is an American Flag Football game always played two days after Thanksgiving. Everything is pretty much just like normal football except for the tackling--in lieu of this “flags” are pulled. Also, stiff-arms are illegal. This game is always played between the New Man Class and the rest of the guys at the College. Both teams practice diligently throughout the month of November for this once-a-year show down. It is always a blast, surrounded by as much fanfare as possible. Here are a couple shots, of what was a VERY competitive and close game this year. The New Man team has not won in over 10 years...but I am told this was the most highly contested came since. Props to the New Man team!

Pre-Game Prayer
The Grid Iron

We even had a Pep Band

Pat Arensberg, former McGill-Toolen Yellow Jacket star, still scrambling for a couple yards, just in Rome now

I did Side-Line commentary throughout the Spaghetti Bowl. At some point I decided to find out how many languages guys spoke in the House. All in all, I think over 20 were showcased throughout the game. Here is Michael of Massachusetts giving a greeting in Polish.



WEB MD: If you have some symptoms you need to figure out. This is the page for you.

USCCB's Movie Ratings: I put a link to this for Rain Man. This is a service provided by the Catholics Bishops of the US. If you ever want to check out a movie before you watch it to know exactly what you are getting into...this site can be really helpful.


The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them,
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages.”

Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing
you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people.


Ya'll have a good one! Let's pray for one another.




Over and out.

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